All posts tagged Audi

Drop-top Double Take: 1996 and 1997 Audi Cabriolets

Every semester at the culmination of my teaching experience with the college students who have selected my course rather innocently, I let them in on my super-secret double agent identity as your author here. Having suffered through a few too many of my lectures already, most treat the news with about the same amount of enthusiasm and interest as they do when I tell them about the Sudanese Kush Pharaohs – which is to say, none (seriously, it’s a very interesting topic. Egypt basically denies they existed!). But occasionally I get a student who is much more interested in my double-life than in my lecture notes. One such student passed through was perhaps as unexpected to me as I was to him. He nonchalantly aced the class with seeming little difficulty, but upon seeing my announcement regarding German Cars For Sale Blog, he excitedly emailed me about his shared love of Audis. He revealed that he owned a ’97 Cabriolet, which proves two things: first, smart people buy Audis, and second, Audis turn up where you least expect them. And the Cabriolet might be the least expected Audi Audi made – coming from a manufacturer renowned for turbocharged inline-5, manual all-wheel drive coupes, sedans and wagons came a front-wheel drive, automatic only (in the U.S.) V6 2-door convertible. Expensive, a bit slow and soft compared to the competition, the Cabriolet sold slowly with only around 1,000 units moved per a year during its availability here with a total of 5,439 imported through 1998. I think a fair amount of fans view the B4 Cabriolet as the least interesting of the Audi lineup in the 1990s, but to me it’s always been a very pretty and underrated car. In particular, the rear 3/4 view is very attractive and the shape changed little with its progeny. But the unusual nature of the Cabriolet has generally meant that it’s been a pretty big bargain in the used convertible market for the past few years – if you can find a good one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Audi Cabriolet on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant

Volkswagen is really great at theory, but not so much at execution. They’ve had a long line of really strange marketing decisions which have at times left the company in dire straights. One wonders how Volkswagen will emerge in the wake of the recent diesel scandal, for example, though many other manufacturers like Mitsubishi (you forgot they still made cars, didn’t you? Me too.) are doing their best to usurp VW’s crown as a manufacturing pariah. Yet, Volkswagen has so many debacles it has run its customers through that it should be amazing they come back for more at all. In the early 1990s, they mis-rated the timing belt service intervals on the early V8 quattros. The result was, predictably, a bunch of engine replacements. The 1.8T became notorious for turbo sludge problems, too – rectified with larger filters and synthetic-only oil, but a fair number (including my Passat) had factory turbo replacement. The 3.0 V6? A timebomb of metal shards working their way from the passenger rear of the motor through the engine, thanks to what appears to be an oil starvation design flaw. The 2.7Ts, 4.2s and all of the FSi motors? Known issues, sometimes very large and expensive. Coil packs, unnecessarily complicated PSV systems, transmissions made of glass and clogging sunroof channels? All the norm in your VAG experience. But Volkswagen really outdid themselves by making a complicated system even more complicated when they introduced the 4.0 W8 into the Passat. Sure, it was a test bed for later W12 models, and viewed in that light it makes some sense. But then, the Passat shown here is much more rare than the Bentleys and even some of the A8 W12 models that derived experience from the B5.5. Volkswagen could simply have taken any one of their proven engines and provided the answer to whatever question they were posing when they conceived this vehicle. Instead, they did things differently. That’s both something to celebrate and something to point out as an inherent character flaw:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant on eBay

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Stretch Your Dollar: 2003 Audi A8L

While they’re no longer the largest, fastest or most luxurious executive sport sedans on the market, the D2 Audi A8/S8 does still offer enthusiasts a substantial package for a very unsubstantial amount of money. While I’ve spent a lot of time previously covering my favorite S8 models, the normal A8 and stretched A8L tone down the sport but also come to the market at an even more budget-friendly price. To maximize your value, look towards the A8L models. These were expensive sedans back in the early 2000s, though today’s prices really dwarf the MSRP of $67,200 for the lang model. They came mostly loaded, but there were still some options that you could select such as the 18″ 5-spoke wheels shown on this 2003 example. With low miles, in a classic silver/black color combination that channels the original ASF concept that signaled the A8’s then futuristic shape and design, and in fantastic one owner shape, they don’t get much nicer than this:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi A8L on eBay

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Sprint6: 2007 Audi S6

It will be really interesting in another 10 years to see how we look back on the 2000s and specifically the beginning of the horsepower race between auto makers. In a just the span of a generation, we saw average power more than double in most performance cars while simultaneously technology filled their cockpits and dominated the driving experience. Take Audi’s S6; rising from the nomenclature change in 1995, it came to the market with a 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-5 developing a then inspired 227 horsepower. By the launch of the C5 platform, power was up to 340, now with a V8 developed out of the S6 Plus and S8 units. When the C6 was launched in 2006, the S6 now had a V10 motor displacing 5.2 liters and churning out 430 horsepower. What was perhaps more amazing was that it was overshadowed by the big-brother S8 with another 20 horses, and the twin-turbocharged RS6 positively dwarfed it with 580 horsepower on tap. On top of that, it quickly became evident that the way forward would be forced induction to generate even greater power, and consequently all of the major manufacturers have moved in that direction. Better response, better fuel economy, and even more power mean that the new TSFi motors make these V10s look like the dinosaurs they consume. To further sully the waters of contemplation of ownership, these exquisitely built sedans seemed just rather ho-hum. Fast? Sure, without a doubt, but they weren’t very flashy or wild. However there were two options to spice up your S6 – Brilliant Red was a great way to make a spash, but the one seldom selected that I think had the most character was Sprint Blue Pearl Effect:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Audi S6 on eBay

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1983 Audi Quattro

At the first Audi Club track event I went to, I excitedly hurried my 4000CS quattro through the hills of Northwest Connecticut to Lime Rock Park. The year was 1997, and while I had been heading to the track for many years this was my first foray to an Audi event. Back in ’97, old Audis were pretty uncommon – hard to fathom considering how scarce they are today. So going to an all-Audi event promised to be a special collection of audacious Audis, and I was certainly not disappointed. There were no less than ten Quattros in attendance, and may have even been more – I struggle a bit to remember, but a fair chunk of the instructor core had them and even a few students showed up with the legendary cars. It was a bit like those nature shows of Ridley Sea Turtles arriving on Mexican beaches once a year to lay eggs; a baffling display of the entire world’s population arriving in one spot at one time when for the rest of the year they’re spread around the world’s oceans. Quattros, especially large numbers of Quattros, are like that. Let’s put some figures into perspective – E30 M3s are rare, right? Sure, only around 5,000 made it to the U.S. with a pretty good amount still being sold on eBay today being driven as they should. 190E 16V owners enjoy pointing out that their cars are much more endangered, as just shy of 2,000 made the Atlantic crossing. Low residuals mean a lower percentage of those original 1,953 still are dog-legging around. E24 M6, E28 M5, E34 M5? Sure, all very low production cars. But the Quattro? 664 came here, and how many are left today is a good question. I’d estimate the number of Quattros remaining alive and in good condition to likely be less than 2/3rds of the original 664 – figure maybe 400 are still around and serviceable. Think about the last time you saw an E30 M3 cruising along down the road (it doesn’t count if you own one or were at a show)? You’re at least ten times less likely to happen across a Quattro. Finally, they’re starting to be appreciated for their special nature, but they’re certainly still critically endangered in the U.S.:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

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